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Smart e-bus makes French dream come true

China Daily| Updated: Sep 22, 2021 L M S

Smart electric buses made in China are scheduled to start regular passenger services on open roads in Paris, France, in autumn next year, said CRRC Electric Vehicle Co Ltd, their manufacturer.

Demand for environmentally friendly public transport vehicles is rising in many parts of the world, especially in Europe, it said.

The Hunan province-based company is the manufacturing unit of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp, the country's train-maker, and specializes in electric-and gas-powered hybrid vehicles.

It put a 12-meter-long self-driving bus on a trial run in Paris last week. Clement Bayard, a French company, imported the bus into France.

The autonomous vehicle cleared a 6-kilometer section along the 393 bus route in southeast Paris on Friday. In about 40 minutes, the bus passed 26 traffic lights and 10 bus stops.

Benjamin Joliviere, head of the autonomous bus project of RATP, the French capital's mass transit operator, said the results of the trial were "more than positive". It was the first time in France that a self-driving bus ran on a regular bus route, he said.

Francois Yann, an RATP bus driver, sat in the driver's seat during the trial run. "Once we had done the training and saw the vehicle in operation, we found the performance was actually quite reassuring," he said. "It feels like a technology we were dreaming about when we were kids. And now, it's all happening ..."

The bus features real-time processing of information about people, vehicle and road conditions, ensuring safety and improving driving efficiency, said Peng Zhichuan, director of the automation technology at CRRC Electric Vehicle.

Christelle Tang, president of Clement Bayard, said, "The Chinese technology has been adapted to the French market in collaboration between our company and RATP."

In recent years, smart bus demonstrations have been held in a number of Chinese cities, including Beijing, Wuxi, Jiangsu province, and Changsha, Hunan province. CRRC Electric Vehicle said the trial operations of Shanghai's first autonomous bus line began last month in the Lin-gang Special Area of China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone.

The 8.5-km loop line with eight platforms opened to the public in mid-August. It takes a bus 30 to 40 minutes to complete the ride.

The autonomous vehicles can automatically respond to traffic lights, pull over, and open and close their doors, said a CRRC Electric statement.

Thanks to the rapid adoption of digital, intelligent and green technologies in the transport sector, Chinese companies are seeking to exploit related commercial opportunities. They are pioneering a new wave of technological breakthroughs, and adopting new business models and formats, to promote sustainable growth of the transport industry across the world, said Luo Renjian, a researcher at the Institute of Transportation Research, which operates under the aegis of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic regulator.

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